It’s everyone’s favourite time of year. Well, most peoples’, unless you’ve suffered a tragedy. Or have children. Or you’re a mother. Or the designated meal-maker. Or just a bit miserable like me. Whatever your verdict on Christmas, it’s time to pump up the music and get that party started; whether you’re with family, mates, or just doing your own thing.
But this year, no Buble. For the love of all things holy (and quite a few that aren’t), no more Michael bloody Buble. Or Elton John. I’ll accept Slade, but Wizzard’s really pushing it this time. Lennon can have one play but that’s it. Christmas music is great; but soon becomes a perennial chore everyone has to sit through for two months until finally the fated day is here, and everyone wants to beat Jona Lewie in the back of the head with trumpet.
Is the youngest putting on Kiss.FM? Or Radio 1? It doesn’t matter, they all play the same stuff. We’re not having it. Is Nana already moving in for her handbag, eager to reach for the inexplicably portable gramophone? Not tonight, grandma. It’s time to rock. And here’s just the playlist you need to pump you up – whilst making no mention of Christmas. You don’t need to love Santa to have a good time. So, without further ado, here at Splendid Fred, we’ve collected, compiled and concocted the Ultimate Christmas Jamlist.
The Ultimate Christmas Jam-List of Biblical Properties – no seriously, these picks have the risk of doing a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’:
Fire Woman – The Cult (1989) – I have seen these guys live and, let me tell you, that opening is as explosive as introductions get. A timeless, underrated rock classic that guarantees the perfect start to any party. Fist-pump the night away.
Swords of a Thousand Men – Tenpole Tudor (1981) – The classic party-goers anthem. Or at least it should be. This borderdline novelty hit has the crashing cymbals, wasted vocals and swinging rhythm to elicit many a tipsy ‘Shotzh!’.
Wild Side – Mötley Crüe (1987) – Whilst the lyrics are hardly merry, this hard-edged rocker on the tough LA streets delivers in a punchy chorus that’ll have you headbanging in no time.
Mistress for Christmas – AC/DC (1990) – Okay, yes, I lied a little bit when I said there’ll be ‘no mention of Christmas’, but AC/DC rocks, and this track from 1990’s The Razor’s Edge rocks a bit too much to be absent. Besides, it’s about wanting to get laid for Christmas. Not Mrs. Claus. Though, I guess, technically…
Nothin’ But A Good Time – Poison (1988) – Ah, the necessities of common man. Drink and sex. Also, what Christmas is to a lot of people, really. Poison’s 1988 classic was made for excessive parties. Social distancing permitting, of course.
Metal Health (Bang Your Head) – Quiet Riot (1983) – The band’s signature, this anthem is all about metal and how insane it drives you, but in a good way. Perfect.
Excitable – Def Leppard (1987) – I had to include the Sheffield-bred boys on here, and this B-side from 1987’s legendary Hysteria is a hidden gem. That chorus pumps and pumps.
Crazy Crazy Nights – KISS (1987) – That key change, damn. A bit repetitive in nature, perhaps, but it’s catchy. And at this point you should be somewhere between tipsy and oh, shall I like that person’s Instagram post despite not really knowing them? so it doesn’t matter. Also, no, no you shouldn’t.
Shot in the Dark – AC/DC (2020) – The band returned this year on top form, with a first taste of redemption sweeter than anything they’ve done before. Just the right amount of mainstream appeal, just the right amount of diesel-tainted rock.
There Will Never Be Another Tonight – Bryan Adams (1991) – If anyone can do a trademark rocker, it’s Bryan. Waking Up the Neighbours delivered a nuclear arsenal of guitar-fueled goodies. This is among their best. And perfect for the big day.
Out in the Cold – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1991) – Whilst the lyrics are a bit dark, the riff throughout chugs like a steam locomotive; remaining one of the band’s best songs. Also, cold. Christmas. There’s a clear link there. Clearly.
Burn It to The Ground – Nickelback (2008) – Yes, we’re having Nickelback on the Christmas playlist. You’re not skipping it. The band hides a real cache of hard rockers in the 21st century. This is one of them. Hard-edged, reckless and mean. Time to party.
All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose – KISS (1983) – A more underrated track from KISS, from a period where they lost the makeup but doubled down on the rock. If a portal to the depths of Satan’s dominion isn’t open by your third Baileys, what are you doing?
Gudbuy T’Jane – Britny Fox (1988) – Slade makes a cameo on the list, but only in spirit. Their aptly misspelled 1972 glam hit from Slayed? was covered 16 years later by hair metal band Britny Fox. And their version goes harder. Let the big hair out. It’s Christmas.
Boyz Are Gonna Rock – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986) – Glam metal strikes back, with a track from equally-underrated Vinnie Vincent Invasion. Their debut really is a gold mine; and this is a prime example of why. Boy, girl, non-binary, whatever, just rock, dude.
F.I.N.E. – Aerosmith (1989) – This is the point in the night where the far-too-physical drunks begin to show signs of their path in life. This one’s for them. ‘I hear that you’re so tight, your loving squeaks’. Yes Steven, how poetic.
Auslander – Rammstein (2019) – By now, the party’s in full swing. The motherly supply of three kegs of eggnog has been depleted, and people are quickly moving on to the liquor cabinet full of stuff no one really drinks. Drambuie? Sure. Frangelico? I don’t know what it is, but why not? Absinthe? No one remembers Boxing Day, anyway. Time for German techno metal.
White Riot – The Clash (1977) – This not-even-two-minute punk rocker is the ‘70s incarnate. Merriments are in full swing and someone’s broken mum’s favourite shitty ornament. People are sighing with relief in silence. Or flailing mindlessly to the guitar. Both are acceptable this time of year apparently.
Bring It On Down – Oasis (1994) – Definitely Maybe really is flawless. This track is proof. Even the ‘filler’ is incredible. Bring it on down indeed; it’s pretty raucous, even for the Gallagher brothers.
Coming Home – Cinderella (1988) – Let’s calm it down a bit now; whilst one can’t equate coming home for Christmas to coming back from a lengthy, painful tour (unless that’s what you do for a living), it’s better than Chris Rea. By Nicolas Cage’s mullet, it’s better than Chris Rea.
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) – AC/DC (1981) – We’re closing ‘Act One’ now, and what better climax than the Aussies’ 1981 Napoleonic cannons? A true masterpiece from start to finish. Once Brian Johnson instructs you to pick up your balls, you better get ready to down that last Strongbow Dark Fruits.
Let It Rock – Bon Jovi (1986) – The party might be winding down a bit now; at least someone’s passed out, slack-jawed on the sofa. But from humble organ beginnings comes another rocker barreling betwixt your ears. This party ain’t over yet.
I Love to Boogie – T. Rex. (1976) – In a celebration centered around dazzling lights, glittering tinsel and generally having fun, Marc Bolan has to make an appearance. There are better rockers in the man’s back catalogue. But sometimes you just need a simple, playful bop.
Christmas Time – Bryan Adams (1985) – I’ve broken my promise twice, yes, I’m aware. But everyone’s too drunk to care at this point, and the chorus is simple enough to worryingly sway to. Pop rock at its cheesiest.
American Girl – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1976) – Don’t pay attention to the forlorn lyrics and you’ve got yourself one hell of a swaggering classic rocker. It hails from the 1970s and sounds just as fresh today.
Get Off – The Dandy Warhols (2000) – The Dandy Warhols could have complete control of our playlist from start to finish. Uptempo rockers, pop ballads and ethereal dirges, the alternative outfit have covered it all. One of their best, though, is ‘Get Off’, which has a mounting stomp throughout. Easy to listen to.
All My Friends Are Falling in Love – The Vaccines (2018) – Someone at the party is feeling like this; it’s simply a question of who. A more recent addition to the playlist, and a damn fine pop-rocker, too. Allow adequate time after the track for someone to go loudly chunder when the Sourz get too much.
Complete Control – The Clash (1977) – The Clash hits back in our megamix with one of their most seething pieces; translating sonically into a punky barrage of distorted guitar and Joe Strummer’s indecipherable lyrics. He’s drunk on eggnog. Probably.
Nowhere Fast – Fire Inc. (1984) – Streets of Fire is a hugely underrated film (though undeniably of its time), and its soundtrack is no less powerful. Jim Steinman’s unmistakable pomp and swaggerstance results in two beastly tracks which build and build (the other being ‘Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young’). Six minutes of thunderous beating and some of the catchiest choruses put to record.
I Don’t Like This Party – Teenage Waitress (2020) – 2020 has delivered a surprising amount of good records. Teenage Waitress’ debut is one of them. Not only does ‘I Don’t Like This Party’ have a simplistic, infectious riff about it; but it fits how many at the party probably feel inside. A bit of dark humour is good for the soul. By now the party may well be winding down.
The Sound of Sinners – The Clash (1980) – Hey, everyone needs a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour,, right? Joe Strummer & co.’s voyage into the triple LP with 1980’s Sandinista! explored genres galore; including, surprisingly, gospel. And boy, do they nail it. References to the great flood, background calls of ‘Judgment day’ and an underlining religious vibe. Perfect for Christmas.
Long Cold Winter – Cinderella (1988) – The party is ever edging toward the event horizon (not the film). Too many people have to sit down and fire their way through the ‘head-wobblies’. Someone might be reaching for their jacket and keys; someone else could be heading home already. Allow Tom Keifer et al. to deliver a six-minute, bluesy comedown that’ll settle your bones for just a moment. More than enough time to ring for a taxi.
All I Want Is You – U2 (1988) – U2’s Rattle and Hum is an eclectic mix of studio and live material; culminating in another six-minute piece; full – simultaneously – of sorrow and hope. It’s a real beautiful one; and bound to bring it home for most of your pals. Easy to digest, intricate to understand.
Rockin’ All Over the World – Status Quo (1977) – Oh come on, if anyone’s going to end our ultimate rockin’ party playlist in tribute to Jesus, it’s Status Quo. The kings of the three-chord boogie; the pioneers of using the same formula for fifty years. But it works. I mean, this song opened Live Aid, after all. And no one really dislikes this song*. They just say they do. (*It has come to my attention that some people really do not like this song. I’m as surprised as you.)
And there we have it. Christmas. Wrapped up in a neat little, six-stringed bow. A plethora, nay, veritable smorgasbord of timeless rock tracks to keep you and your loved ones entertained for a couple of hours. We here at Splendid Fred hope everyone gets home safe. But most of all, that you have a very good Christmas. We’ll keep the pieces coming well into the new year; when hopefully fate is a bit kinder on us all.